Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Martina restaurant

Since we did not go out of town for the fourth of July as it was in the middle of the week this year, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. And Martina has been making every list in town, so we wanted to check it out. I think it opened late last fall. We arrived a bit early intending to sit at the bar and have a drink, but they said we could be seated right away.
 pao de queijo rolls
Toro Y Gallo cocktail – this is a take on a Moscow mule, but far more Instagrammable.
Viceroy cocktail for John
We started with a few small plates. First was the seared scallops with saffron cream, burnt tomato, flying fish roe and basil. The scallops were seared perfectly and the saffron cream had tons of flavor.
Next, was the charred Brussel sprouts salad with frisee, pancetta, chevre and mustard vin. The cheese had a slight blue cheese flavor which I quite liked. The Brussel sprouts seemed a bit lacking or missing in the dish to me though. More would have given more flavor.
Last, but not least was the spicy tuna tiradito with hibiscus, lime, onion and cilantro. This was amazing. Very flavorful and not too spicy by any means.
John had the spaghetti with lobster or spaghetti fra diavolo with lobster with tomato, roasted fresno, basil and cinnamon. This was a tad spicy and had great, fresh tomato flavor.
I had the cacio e pepe panzotti, with black pepper, butter and parmesan. These were essentially ravioli with a very rich cheese inside. It was great, but it got rich very quickly.

The service was very good throughout our visit. We had a table near the kitchen and we liked seeing all of the different dishes as they were prepared and brought out. The food and the cocktails are all so beautiful and Instagram worthy. I liked the white room with palms and tropical feeling accents as well. It is minimalist feeling without being too empty or loud.


Martina
4312 S Upton Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55410
Phone: (612) 922-9913
https://www.martinarestaurant.com/



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nolo's Kitchen & Bar

We checked out Nolo’s restaurant and bar on a recent Friday for dinner and drinks. We had made a reservation, but on arrival it wasn’t busy, so I’m not sure it was necessary, but it was pretty early. Maybe later in the evening it would be busier.
 I started with the rum punch cocktail with plantation rum blend, passionfruit, pineapple, orgeat, lime.
We started with an appetizer of tuna crudo with avocado, watermelon radish, cucumber, citrus, habanero salsa, ponzu, mint. This was a light and fresh starter. Very delicious! Looked so pretty too.
John had the cheeseburger which is double meat patties, double cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and spread. This burger has made a few best burger lists lately, and it is legit. The meat was very juicy and all of the toppings just made it even more rich. The fries were great also and seemed to be freshly made in house. This is worth coming back for.
I had the smoked chicken pizza topped with smoked chicken, roasted onions, Parmesan, fontina, whole milk mozzarella, roasted garlic cream sauce. It was solid, with a nice woodfired thin crust.

The dining room is very light, bright, open and airy, especially during daylight hours. The prices are not bad and the service was excellent. They have convenient valet parking on the side of the building as well, which is nice because parking in North Loop is getting difficult.


Nolo's Kitchen & Bar
515 N Washington Ave #100
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 800-6033
https://www.noloskitchen.com/


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Chicago Trip Report 05.24-28.2018

We had not made it to Chicago for four years, so we wanted to go and check out a few places, mainly Rick Bayless restaurants.
We stayed at the Hyatt Place Chicago River North, which was very conveniently located on the next block over from Xoco, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo as well as a tiki bar we wanted to visit. It wasn't the fanciest hotel, but the rooms were pretty new and quite large for Chicago. The only drawback, was the fact that a fire station was located around the corner, so some nights it seemed like we heard sirens all night long and some nights, not at all.



Once we checked into the hotel, we went across the street to Xoco, the Rick Bayless fast casual restaurant. Guacamole with bacon and quest fresca is above.
happy hour tacos
chicken tacos are above, we also had some amazing churros, but I forgot to take a photo of them.
Next, we walked over to the John Hancock building, and went up to the Signature room.
We had a drink atop the Hancock building. It is worth doing once I guess, just for the views.
Next, we went to the Park Hyatt's NoMi rooftop restaurant and bar. They had some tiki inspired drinks and a nice rooftop, it was not that high up, so it was not that crowded or difficult to get into. My drink was the Cherry Pickins.
We had made dinner reservations at Frontera Grill awhile ago to make sure we could get in. Above is a blue agave margarita and a paloma.
ceviche trio starter
halibut
fish special- can't recall what it was....
We have been to Frontera on prior trips to Chicago, so it was fun to go back again. 
After dinner, we went around the block, down the alley, and down some stairs to a somewhat hidden tiki bar called Three Dots and a Dash.

I really would have liked to get a tiki glass here, but they were like $50 each, which seems nuts. Maybe it isn't I'm not sure. Some of them were super cool though.
skull wall above the stairs as you enter
The next morning we walked a block to Firecakes. John had a donut ice cream sandwich. He said it was delicious. 
I had some more standard issue donuts. 
We had a late start due to the tiki drinks the night before and wanted to have a light breakfast due to our lunch reservations at Toplobampo, which we had also made some time before.
The tasting menu when we were there was called the Art menu and the food was based on art works in the restaurant. this was anticipation.
Under the top was yellowtail tuna, waygu short rib, young coconut, guajillo chile. 
Second was Exuberance - spring vegetables, tabasco style verde (peas, garlic chives, spinach, serrano, piton, parsley, cilantro), baja abalone. This tasted like springtime.
I did the wine pairing with the tasting menu. It was more wine than I anticipated.
This was the Wonder course, sea scallop, manchamanteles, (ancho, tropical fruit, almonds, spices), white sweet potato with jack fruit, spiced pineapple, chorizo dust.
Triumph - chocolate chile, morita chocolate cake, papilla chalice cream, grilled rhubarb, mexican hot chocolate with ancho, goats milk caramel.
After lunch, we went over to the Chicago Institute of Art to wander about and look at art and whatnot.
Chicago Athletic Association building, it is a hotel and has several restaurants inside now. 

We had a snack in the Game Room first as there was a he line to get into the elevator to go to the rooftop restaurant and bar.
We finally waited in the line and went to Cindy's with the rest of the masses. The view was nice though.

Cheeseburger from the Billy Goat Tavern at Navy Pier
We had booked an architectural river cruise that evening that was part of Illinois Craft Beer week and it featured beer from Revolution Brewing.


The cruise had a DJ, which was cool and it was also neat to see the river at night, as we have always done the architecture tours during the day before.

I think we had a drink at Navy Pier's Margaritaville and it started to rain, so we grabbed an Uber and headed back to the hotel. Too far to walk in the rain and it had been a long day.
Saturday morning we tried to get into Beatrix for breakfast or brunch, but they had a 2 hour wait or something crazy, so we jumped right to lunch. We got to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria shortly after they opened, so we were seated right away. We started with the Malnati salad.
Chicago classic deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati's is John's favorite for Chicago style pizza and I think it is quite good as well.
After lunch, we went over to the Lincoln Park Zoo and walked around while. This is inside the conservatory.
Next, we headed over to Wrigleyville. Hi Wrigley Field. 
We had lunch at Big Star, across from the stadium. 
the building on the left is new...must be Cubs offices? 
taco de panza and al pastor tacos
We didn't intend to go to the baseball game, but the longer we sat there, the more it seemed like a good idea. So John found some tickets on StubHub.
After the game, we went to Murphy's Bleachers and stood around for a bit until the lines for the train went away.
We could not get into Girl and the Goat, but we did manage to get a reservation to Little Goat for brunch.
pancakes
and sausage for John
omelette of the day for me- it had onions and cream cheese inside with asparagus.
The hash browns were magical! Thinly shredded potato and I think something else was added to them, but I have no idea what.

After breakfast, we went to the Saturday Night Live Chicago exhibit at the Chicago Broadcasting Museum. It goes through how the show is made and sorta tied it back into Chicago, but not much. The costumes and props and such were cool though.
Jeopardy set from SNL
Wayne's World set
Archway from Oprah's show!!! 
We had a late lunch at Public House, which was right across from the broadcasting museum. Sliders above.
fries
buffalo wings
We walked over to London House Chicago hotel and waited in another line to go up an elevator to a rooftop bar. It was hot as hades out so I took a picture and we went to the air conditioned indoor bar. Rooftops bars are super popular in Chicago right now, but I'm to sure they are all worth the wait for the elevators.
A new location of Ballast Point brewing recently opened in the West Loop neighborhood. It is supposed to have a rooftop bar, but it wasn't finished yet.
Our last dinner of the trip was at Lena Brava, another, newer, Rick Bayless restaurant in the West Loop neighborhood as well.
yellowtail belly
opah
scallops
braised short rib 
spinach
wood fired oven tart
Next door is a cerveceria and taqueria. I was so stuffed to the gills I could barely drink a beer. I'm not sure the beer was great, but I bet the tacos are worth the trip. 
Monday morning we finally managed to get into Beatrix for breakfast. John basically raced down there and put his name on the list while I got ready. It was good, no wonder this place is mobbed every day. John had the steak and eggs. Not your typical, it had chimichurri sauce on the steak.
brown sugar bacon
lemon pancakes with blackberries and lemon syrup
We had some time to waste before heading to the airport so we walked along Michigan Avenue, walked the Riverwalk and sat at City Winery on the Riverwalk for a bit.
schmear plate with tapenade and some sort of tomato dip sauce

We had a fun drive to the airport with a super enthusiastic Lyft driver who had his name on the licensee plates and loved his Jeep so much he was demonstrating the features of it for us the whole way. Better than a grumpy taxi driver I suppose!

Our flights on Southwest were just fine too. I kinda hate that seats are not assigned, but I guess it doesn't matter for such a short flight.